A day among idyllic cruise line private islands with powder-soft sands, crystal-clear waters and free-flowing drinks is pure bliss. For many, it’s the highlight of a relaxing cruise holiday. Since the 1990s, cruise lines have been investing in their own tropical utopias to provide guests with that very experience. But, in such a competitive industry, you’ve got to do something to stand out from the crowd. Here are the best cruise line private islands and what makes them so special.
Owned by Royal Caribbean International, CocoCay is found in the Bahamas between Freeport and Nassau. Each stop is known as Perfect Day at Coco Cay, giving you a spot-on description of what you can expect. As well as golden beaches and swaying palm trees, this island boasts zip lines, a 137m-tall hot air balloon ride, a swim-up bar in the Bahamas’ largest freshwater pool and the tallest water slide in North America.
Best for: Adventure lovers who want a fun-filled day in the sun
Great Stirrup Cay
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Great Stirrup Cay is also located within the Bahamas and forms part of the Berry Islands. Stirrup Cay prioritises good food and complete relaxation. It has a huge beach buffet offering delicious eats every bit as good as you get onboard. There’s also Abaco Taco, a recently-opened complimentary restaurant where you can build your own taco with all your favourite add-ons. Throw into the mix a luxury paid-for grill restaurant, three bars staffed with cocktail experts and the option to rent your own private cabana, and you’ll never want to leave this place.
Best for: Foodies who want to indulge and unwind surrounded by beauty
Half Moon Cay
Rated The Best Private Island for 17 years running, Half Moon Cay is owned by Holland America Line. It’s also used by Carnival Cruise Line and appears on many of the cruise lines’ Caribbean and Panama Canal sailings. It has more than two miles of pristine coastline where you can do as much or as little as you please.
You can find find your perfect clam shell sunshade and work on your tan all day. Or, make some life-long memories by horseback riding along the beach. Try kayaking in the aquamarine waters or going on a stingray adventure. A day at Half Moon Cay is something everyone looks forward to.
Best for: Nature lovers who want to get away from it all in a tropical paradise
Another award-winning destination, Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay provides you with everyone you need for the perfect beach getaway. From Castaway Family Beach and Snorkelling Lagoon to multiple water play areas and all-day character greetings, this is the place to put family first as you relax and have fun. With an adults-only beach and plenty of watersports, it’s not just the little ones who will have a blast here.
Castaway Cay is a top pick among cruise line private islands for the eco-conscious. Researchers are continuously restoring the health of coral reefs with transplants. Cooking oil is recycled to power vehicles, and solar panels are used to generate energy.
Best for: Families who want to combine a private island experience with signature Disney hospitality